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Golf Fitness

KNEE KNOCKER Could I get the same injury as Tiger by playing golf ? By Heidi Reyes

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n 24 June, just a few days on from hobbling to his sensational US Open win over unfancied journeyman Rocco Mediate, Tiger Woods underwent reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). According to his doctors, the surgery was a success—and millions of golf fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tiger initially injured his knee while jogging last July after the British Open. He continued to play (with 7 consecutive wins to boot!) but his knee worsened, with the cartilage becoming damaged as well. This past April, he underwent arthroscopic surgery to clean out some of the cartilage damage, after which two stress fractures were also found on his left shin bone. Now, after his fourth left knee surgery (he had a benign tumour removed in 1994 and a benign cyst removed in 2002), Tiger is on the road to recovery. While the golf world is abuzz with the effect his absence will have on the game, many are also wondering: what in the world is an ACL and is golf bad for my knees too?

What is the ACL?

Is golf bad for the knees?

Knee injuries are actually not common in golf. In fact, only 4 to 8 percent of all golf injuries occur to the knees, and quite often there is an existing knee problem that gets irritated by the swing, as we likely have witnessed with Tiger. One lesson we can all learn from this is to not ignore nagging aches and imbalances, since over time and countless golf swings, they may lead to more serious injuries. While not all injuries can be prevented, keeping your muscles and joints strong and flexible can certainly help, as can having a professional assess your swing to make sure that you’re not putting any undue stress on one particular area of your body. Thankfully, Tiger’s doctors feel “it is highly unlikely that he will have any long-term effects as it relates to his career” after his surgery. ACL reconstruction is actually quite a common procedure now, especially with more and more people participating in sports. With the proper rehabilitation, most people can expect to return to playing sports at their pre-injury level within six to twelve months. It’s a long road ahead for Tiger, but we know that he has the work ethic and determination to get back to form, and nobody would be surprised if he came back even better!

The ACL is one of four major ligaments of the knee joint, providing almost 90% of its stability. It helps to stop the tibia (shin bone) from sliding too far forward relative to the femur (thigh bone), and also helps to limit rotational movements of the knee. The ACL is the most commonly injured knee HK-based Heidi Reyes is a registered Physiotherapist ligament, and it is most from Canada, where she specialized in treating sports commonly injured by a and orthopedic injuries. She also has a degree in Kinesiology and is certified in FitforeGolf, a researchsudden twisting movement while the foot is planted, such as when quickly changing direction in sports like based rehabilitation and conditioning programme basketball or football. It can also be injured by hyper-extending the knee, or by a for golfers. She has been working as a Personal trainer direct blow to the front/side of the knee. Very often other structures of the knee are for over a decade, integrating her knowledge in injured at the same time, such as the menisci (cartilaginous shock absorbers) or other rehabilitation and fitness with her passion for helping ligaments. The knee may become painful or swollen with an ACL injury, and may others to achieve optimal health and wellness. feel like it “gives out” or buckles, depending on the extent of the injury. The ligament can only be partially torn, or in more severe cases, completely ruptured, which is part of the reason ! In the US, over 100,000 ACL reconstruction surgeries are performed why not all ACL injuries require surgery (the annually individual’s level of activity and occupation are ! The long-term success rate after ACL surgery is 82-95%, depending other important factors). on many factors ! ACL reconstruction surgery involves replacing the torn ligament with a Sustaining an ACL injury while jogging is graft (either part of the person’s own hamstring or patellar tendon, or using really quite unusual. It is possible Tiger had a predonor tissue). It is usually an arthroscopic surgery that takes about 2 hours existing weakness in his knee because of prior ! The rehabilitation process takes about 6 to 12 months, starting with surgeries, or that the repetitive super human forces regaining range of motion, then building strength, endurance, coordination, he produces during swing have proven too much and sport-specific skills and power for his knee to handle. This leads to the second part ! Women have higher rates of ACL injury than men due to the effect of hormones and gender differences in the alignment of their pelvis and knees of my initial question: is golf bad for the knees? 44

HK GOLFER・JULY/AUG 2008

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Golf Fitness What is the ACL? Is golf bad for the knees? By Heidi Reyes

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